Leeds United product Bailey Peacock-Farrell is intent on staking his claim to be the Whites’ number one next season, having returned for pre-season training a week ahead of schedule.
The bulk of the first-team returned to Thorp Arch on Monday as Marcelo Bielsa began to get the squad in shape for the new campaign, but Peacock-Farrell and Stuart Dallas had been offered an extra weeks holiday after representing their countries following the climax of the domestic campaign.
With January arrival Kiko Casilla still on the club’s books, though, 22-year-old Peacock-Farrell felt he could not take the extra week off, as he would be putting himself in an uncomfortable position as he chases the number one jersey again.
The £900,000-rated shot-stopper lost first-choice honours midway through Bielsa’s first term in charge, but could have been benched much earlier had Jamal Blackman not been forced to return to Chelsea with a broken tibia.
He now has a fight on his hands to return his name to the starting XI, but told the club’s official website, via the Yorkshire Evening Post, that he does not want to settle for second best again.
“[Being the first-choice], that’s both our aims,” he said. “That’s probably the worst thing about being a goalkeeper, only one of you can play.
“Me and Kiko get on really well. He came in and he settled in really well, and we have got on great. But both of us want to play obviously, and if I want to do that, then I need to be here and not on holiday or having another week off.
“We are going to be pushing each other in training, and we will see what the manager does come that first game.”
Peacock-Farrell has muted a potential exit from Elland Road in the recent past as he will enter the final year of his Leeds contract on July 1, but has not yet entered into negotiations with the club over extending his stint in West Yorkshire.
It was claimed in late May that talks were on their way, and the board informed Peacock-Farrell that they would be held, but they have so far not been forthcoming, leaving the Darlington-born talent in a state of limbo.
“They said they wanted to open discussions on a contract, but that was two weeks ago, and I still haven’t heard anything,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “But then they also said that last season.
“We’re a season gone, and it still hasn’t happened. I don’t know what to make of it. The aim is to be playing football. I have to. I’m not one of those goalkeepers who could be content with sitting on the bench and picking up a wage.”